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Dog and cat rehabilitation: how much does it cost, when and what treatments to use?

Dog and cat rehabilitation: how much does it cost, when and what treatments to use?

Veterinary medicine, like other fields of technology, has made an amazing civilization leap in the last thirty years, resulting, among other things, from changing the awareness of animal caretakers.

In the past, only the profit earned by a farm animal that produced food counted, and in many cases dogs or cats were simply not treated, treating them neglectfully as individuals living in the human environment.

In many farmyards, the dog or cat is kept to this day only for "benefit " and has to work hard for himself by guarding the property, herds of other animals or hunting small rodents.

In a better situation are dogs that are a kind of "supplement " to their master's hobbies dealing with hunting or participating in racing sleds.

Nowadays, however, companion animals, advancing in the home environment, have more and more often become friends of man or are treated as family members.

Such a change of position entails greater attention of the owners, which undoubtedly translates into a more careful treatment of our pets and, consequently, their care.

People try to provide the best possible living conditions for their dog and in case of illness they use all possible and available treatment options.

Hence, many techniques and medical procedures, once reserved for humans, have become firmly established in veterinary medicine, where they are successfully used, bringing tangible benefits to patients.

A perfect example of what I am writing about is just that animal rehabilitation, the field is increasingly used successfully in veterinary medicine.

So let's get to know what it is and what we can get thanks to it.

  • What is rehabilitation?
  • Why rehabilitate an animal?
  • When to consider dog / cat rehabilitation?
    • Diseases where rehabilitation brings measurable benefits
    • Rehabilitation in older dogs
  • Rehabilitation: how long does it take to see improvement, are there contraindications??
  • The most commonly used rehabilitation treatments
    • Hydrotherapy
    • Medical massage
    • Electrotherapy
    • Magnetotherapy
    • Ultrasound therapy
    • Laser therapy
    • Cryotherapy and thermotherapy
    • Kinesiotherapy
  • Dog and cat rehabilitation at home
  • How much does dog rehabilitation cost?

What is rehabilitation?

To such a trivial question, everyone is able to give a more or less sensible and appropriate answer because the concept is commonly known to probably all.

Because we constantly hear in the press, radio or television that an athlete has suffered a serious injury and after surgery he has a long and intensive rehabilitation Of course, it ended with a "happy end", that is, a full recovery and continued practicing professional sport.

Medical rehabilitation is, as the definition says, a comprehensive and team activity for the benefit of a patient showing incomplete physical and motor fitness, which is designed to restore this fitness as well as ensure a quick recovery manifested in the case of animals, including efficient movement and movement.

The ability to move is one of the main factors determining the health of animals and in natural conditions ensuring survival thanks to quick escape or the possibility of hunting prey.

Rehabilitation therefore, it is an integral part of the therapeutic process, often on a par with other traditional methods of treatment, deciding on the effectiveness of the overall treatment success.

Skillfully carried out shortens the recovery time, bringing tangible benefits to the animal.

Of course, as the definition says, in order to be effective, it must be characterized by:

  • "early "That is, to be initiated early enough,
  • comprehensiveness that is, be based on many techniques,
  • continuity that is, once started treatments should be carried out to the end.

Only then does it bring the expected healing effect, which of course requires discipline on the part of the owner and the animal.

Rehabilitation is conducted by zoophysiotherapists i.e. specialists with appropriate knowledge and, most importantly, practical skills, because, like any treatment method, if carried out incorrectly, it can bring more harm than benefits.

Why rehabilitate an animal?

Why rehabilitate an animal?

Until recently, rehabilitation treatments concerned only people and so often you had to stand in a long queue of waiting.

The advantages of these treatments undoubtedly made them popular also in animals, because is there anything more valuable than health and life??

Rehabilitation is generally defined as a very effective method leading to faster recovery of our patients.

The main goal of the rehabilitation of dogs and cats is to minimize the recovery period after physical trauma, injury if orthopedic surgery and thus a faster return to full physical fitness.

A healthy animal is a physically active individual because that was what nature created it to do.

Injuries related to intense work, traffic accidents or those caused by contact with other animals, for example in the park or on a walk, do not happen rarely and are even a frequent reason for veterinary consultations.

The desperate owner who goes to the orthopedist often hears the diagnosis and learns about the need to undergo immediate surgery, which, although it "repairs " what has been damaged, does not mean the end of the treatment.

Sometimes we are dealing with a situation where "the treatment was successful" but the end result is unfortunately far from ideal.

Remember that any orthopedic surgery related to the exclusion of the limb function, and therefore not using it, may be associated with muscle atrophy, and they, unfortunately, inevitably impair the ability to move.

Rehabilitation in each of these cases will be aimed at preventing the negative effects resulting from the lack of work of muscles and joints.

So it is, in a way, performing movements as a substitute for an animal, which will be reflected in the maintenance of proper muscle function.

Any mechanical trauma leading to bone fractures, ligament ruptures it is associated with development inflammation and accompanying him pain.

Dog rehabilitation after paw fracture

Rehabilitation treatments will not only improve the functions of the limb, but may, above all, reduce pain in our patients.

Remember that the feeling of pain has a broad background throughout the body and causes the diseased limb not to be used, which results in further muscle atrophy.

And the vicious circle is closed.

Fighting pain in animals for which we are responsible as humans is our primary duty, which is a sign of humanity and empathy.

Pharmaceuticals used to reduce pain have a number of side effects, and skilfully conducted rehabilitation allows you to reduce their doses or minimize the number of administrations to those absolutely necessary.

Rehabilitation treatments cause improvement of blood and lymph flow thus removing the arising swelling.

Through the influx of elements (cells) of the immune system to damaged areas, they accelerate tissue reconstruction, and by reducing contractures and muscle tensions, they strengthen muscle strength.

They also stimulate the smooth functioning of the nervous system necessary for the smooth functioning of the bones and joints.

Skilfully carried out rehabilitation allows you to control the body weight of an animal that, due to an injury, does not exhibit adequate physical activity.

Stimulating the metabolism through movement is an extremely important way to fight obesity.

And what may seem equally important, it is a perfect complement to surgical treatment and proven pharmacotherapy.

All these activities, while complementing each other, result in faster recovery after an injury or injury, shortening the recovery period and thus eliminating any negative effects of excluding the affected area of ​​the body from use.

As a consequence, not only the physical condition but also the mental condition of the animal improves, which seems to be of paramount importance.

Rehabilitation is used not only in the case of injuries, but also in the case of diseases with a nervous or muscular basis.

Many of them are incurable, but skillfully conducted exercises limit their development and thus slow down the growing symptoms.

As the old saying goes, movement is health, so the endurance of the cardiovascular system increases as a result of rehabilitation (blood flows faster and reaches the working muscles).

So we can clearly see how many potential benefits can be obtained by using a properly selected method of rehabilitation.

Thus, the answer to the question of whether it is worthwhile seems obvious. Yes, it's worth it!

When to consider dog / cat rehabilitation?

When to use rehabilitation?

Today, our pupils are unfortunately exposed to similar orthopedic injuries as athletes practicing various professional disciplines.

A broken ligament in the knee it is not only an affliction of well-known and liked footballers, but also dogs, which should be carefully remembered.

If, therefore, rehabilitation helps professional players, why not use it in dogs?

Diseases where rehabilitation brings measurable benefits

There is a whole range of diseases for which rehabilitation treatments turn out to be extremely effective and recommended.

Indications for rehabilitation in the first place are all motor system dysfunctions animals with frequent occurrences, especially in old age inflammation of the organs of the locomotor system.

Owners of older dogs, who often struggle with it, know best how huge this problem is osteoarthritis.

In our canine seniors, we also often meet all of them degenerations affecting the spine and hence z discopathies and paralysis.

Rehabilitation turns out to have unquestionable merits in the treatment of all these diseases.

Probably everyone associates rehabilitation with postoperative management after complicated bone fractures, especially in the extremities, sprains or at torn ligaments (e.g. cruciate ligament in the knee).

Rehabilitation accelerates recovery from a fracture

Unfortunately, these are common orthopedic ailments.

Hip dysplasia can also be a textbook example of when we can successfully use rehabilitation treatments.

In fact, every injury, accident, injury in which, for some reason, the use of the limb is disabled, so lameness may be an indication for rehabilitation to prevent muscle atrophy.

We should also remember about chronic muscle diseases (eg. any autoimmune myositis) when exercise can be of great help in the healing process.

Skeletal injuries often occurring in our pupils, soft tissue scars, conditions of contractures if muscle weakness also may be an indication for rehabilitation.

Let's not forget about pain, which is a symptom often accompanying all pathologies of the skeletal and muscular system, when skilfully carried out rehabilitation significantly improves the animal's well-being, often reducing the doses of prescribed non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

The consequence of this will be a lower risk of sometimes life-threatening side effects.

Neurological diseases of the spine, including discopathy, teams compression of the spinal cord and coming out of it spinal nerves, spinal injuries if peripheral nerve pathologies also constitute an indication for rehabilitation.

In case of nerve paralysis or their inflammation effective paresis or imbalance it is worth supporting the treatment process with physical rehabilitation treatments.

Rehabilitation treatments can turn out to be extremely helpful in the treatment of diseases of the integumentary system, i.e skin.

Many may find it surprising, but in the case of all kinds of difficult-to-heal wounds or scars, the use of rehabilitation brings measurable benefits, as in:

  • burns,
  • frostbite,
  • bedsores.

Obesity has become the scourge of our times, manifested by excessive body weight and thus less physical activity and a number of symptoms related to distant organs and organs (e.g. failure of the heart, liver, joints, etc.).

Physiotherapy Here it can come in handy, slowly leading to the return to the optimal body weight.

Until now, we have only talked about sick animals, but we can also rehabilitate those who are healthy but in old age.

Rehabilitation in older dogs

Due to the "slow depletion " of functional reserves and ongoing degenerative processes, canine seniors show many symptoms related to the progressive aging process.

Rehabilitation allows to keep such individuals in better condition longer and thus significantly improve life in its last stage.

So we can clearly see how in many cases rehabilitation treatments can be helpful, improving the health and well-being of treated animals.

Rehabilitation: how long does it take to see improvement, are there any contraindications??

How much does rehabilitation cost and takes

Although rehabilitation brings great benefits to the animal, we cannot always apply it at any time of treatment.

The general rule is that we should carry out treatments as soon as possible.

Remember that muscle wasting progresses day by day, therefore it is important to act quickly so that the starting state from which we start is the best.

There are some limitations in the use of specific physiotherapeutic methods, hence the need to strictly follow the recommendations of the attending physician and a qualified zoophysiotherapist.

Of course, the contraindications will be different for each method.

For example, we will not passive movements if muscle massage in the case of temporary immobilization of a limb by gypsum or other hard dressing.

As long as the animal has not fully healed sutures, i.e. a postoperative wound, it is not worth soaking this place, hence it is not recommended water treadmill exercises, which could delay the wound healing and cause infection.

We do not always want to activate the limb as soon as possible immediately after the procedure, because uncontrolled movement can destroy the effects of the operation.

In such cases, it is primarily about strengthening the tissues, and by improving blood flow through the operated area, accelerating the regeneration processes.

The rehabilitation process does not bring immediate effects, but delays them over time.

Of course, immediate improvement, such as reducing pain, improving well-being or reducing inflammation, is often immediately visible.

In other cases, however, regarding the improvement of movement, reduction of muscle atrophy or lameness, you have to wait a bit.

Rehabilitation most often requires a series of treatments, not one intervention "getting things done " once and for all. So you have to be patient and, most importantly, scrupulously follow medical recommendations.

The treatments themselves last from a dozen to several dozen minutes, which depends on the method used and the clinical condition of the patient.

The most commonly used rehabilitation treatments

Rehabilitation is a very extensive field of practical knowledge that uses many different methods, assisted by modern equipment and specially designed machines, devices for physiotherapy.

During the therapy, depending on the expected therapeutic effect, one of the following methods is most often used:

  • laser therapy,
  • magnetotherapy,
  • sonotherapy,
  • phototherapy,
  • electrotherapy,
  • hydrotherapy,
  • cryotherapy,
  • thermotherapy,
  • classic massage,
  • kinesitherapy.

Each treatment plan is always prepared individually and should be based on thorough medical knowledge supported by the experience of a zoophysiotherapist.

In fact, the point is that the selected form of therapy should bring the greatest benefit to the animal, improving and accelerating the healing process.

I would like to emphasize once again that, apart from the choice of the method of therapy and its skillful implementation, the time of starting the therapy is also of key importance.

It is worth starting the therapy at the beginning of the treatment, when the disease process and symptoms are more strongly expressed because then the effects obtained by us are stronger and better noticeable.

Too delay or delay in introducing the procedures will be associated with minimizing the already permanent changes and contractures (pressure ulcers, muscle atrophy, circulatory disorders) and other adverse consequences resulting from the impairment and restriction of movement.


Water treadmill rehabilitation

Treatments performed in water are undoubtedly one of the most common methods of supporting the healing process today.

Movements in the water engage all muscles to work, they do not put too much strain on the spine or joints and additionally improve the work of the circulatory and respiratory systems.

They are used not only for rehabilitation but also for the prevention of many diseases and for the process of weight loss.

Of course, it is not enough to fill the bathtub with water and put a sick animal there, hoping that it will move by itself.

Such bathtubs must meet the appropriate conditions and be equipped with, for example, water tracks or special nozzles directing the water stream to the appropriate areas of the body.

Hydrotherapy not only serves animals suffering from injuries or contusions, but it can also be used for healthy individuals, thus ensuring great training or relaxation (of course, only in the case of animals who like water, which seems to be a necessary condition).

Hydrotherapy treatments involve placing the patient in a shallow pool, whirlpool tub or on a wet treadmill.

When the pool is deeper and does not match the size of the animal, you can put on a special vest that floats the dog on the water.

The temperature of the liquid is set to ensure thermal comfort for the patient, and the exercises continue from 15 to 30 minutes and are always selected individually on a case-by-case basis.

It is good when the animal is not hungry during the procedure because it is more likely to exercise.

Among the indications for hydrotherapy, we can mention all cases of the following:

  • contractures,
  • stiffening of the joints,
  • muscle atrophy.

This method is also effective for pets after orthopedic procedures, or elderly seniors.

Certainly, hydrotherapy will not hurt you in:

  • degenerative joint diseases,
  • degenerative diseases of the spine,
  • overweight,
  • hip dysplasia,
  • paresis and paralysis of the limbs.

In healthy animals, the resistance of water will be greater than that of air strengthen skeletal muscles helping to better prepare for sports competitions.

Hydrostatic pressure exerted by water reduces tissue swelling, stabilizes joints while preventing injuries during exercise.

You can also see what hydrotherapy for a dog looks like in the video below

Dachshund IVDD Therapy: Walking the Underwater Treadmill
Watch this video on YouTube

Medical massage

It is probably one of the most popular forms of physiotherapy well tolerated by dogs, which is also important.

The pressure of the hand acting on the massaged tissues stimulates blood and lymph circulation, which translates into better oxygenation and nourishment of these places.

It supports a lot the functioning of the immune system, after all, whose cellular elements travel with the flow of blood and lymph.

It makes tendons more flexible, ligaments, improves the work of the joints, supports the muscles by increasing their endurance.

Skillfully made reduces the feeling of pain resulting from the degenerative process and improves nerve conduction.

Therapeutic massage is recommended in:

  • degenerative diseases,
  • joint dysplasias and spine discopathies,
  • inflammation of the muscles,
  • injuries,
  • injuries,
  • fades,
  • bone fractures.

Massage is also used after limb amputations or neuralgia.

It can also be very helpful in the process weight reduction in obese animals.

The procedure itself is ongoing from several to several dozen minutes depending on the tolerance of the animal and can be repeated even daily.

An example of exercises performed during the massage (scheme provided by the Vetoquinol company, the manufacturer of Caniviton forte www.caniviton.pl / site / massages).


It is a physiotherapeutic treatment aimed mainly at patients with severe pains or when we have a different background muscle paresis.

It is based on the electric current generated by the electrodes placed on the dog's body.

We do not have to worry because the procedure is completely safe and the intensity of the current flowing through the muscles is always selected individually for the patient and will not harm the dog.

The muscles through which the electric current flows contract (tremble) and the animal feels a gentle, fully acceptable tingling sensation.

We often use electrotherapy in hard-working animals subjected to high mechanical loads, a clear example of which are running dogs.

Electrotherapy may also be helpful in:

  • discopathies,
  • muscle contractures,
  • muscle aches,
  • circulatory disorders,
  • muscle wasting,
  • problems of the neurological nature of the spinal cord and brain.

Any situation where there is a need for long-term stiffening and immobilization of the limb (eg. due to fracture of long bones) is an indication for the use of electrotherapy.

On average, one treatment usually takes place 10-20 minutes and may require pharmacological sedation of the patient.

The electrode areas must be shaved to facilitate the flow of current.


As a result of the magnetic field on the affected areas of the body, there is a reduction in:

  • feeling pain,
  • inflammation,
  • swelling.

We obtain the same acceleration of tissue healing processes by increasing the metabolism in cells or making better use of the oxygen reaching them.

Magnetotherapy is a great method supporting the treatment of:

  • inflammation of the joints,
  • muscle damage,
  • ligament injuries,
  • metabolic disorders,
  • peripheral nerve inflammation,
  • back pain.

It also works well in bone fractures.

The magnetic field can be used in all domestic mammals and the procedure itself is painless and does not require calming the animal.

One disadvantage, however, is the average length of time the animal has to spend on the treatment from 20 to 40 minutes.

So patience on the part of the patient is required.

Magnetotherapy cannot be used in individuals with neoplastic diseases, acute infections and pregnant bitches. Any metal parts in the patient's body (eg. nails in bone fractures) also prevent the use of this method.

For a full series, 10-15 treatments are needed every day or every other day. In some cases, you can extend the number of repetitions up to 60.

Ultrasound therapy

Ultrasound is a mechanical vibration and its frequency is completely inaudible to the human ear.

Their impact on diseased tissues is completely painless for the animal.

Ultrasound with a frequency of 0.8 - 3 MHz is inducing micromassage, and by generating thermal energy, they favorably affect the treated tissues.

They exhibit properties painkillers, reduce too much muscle tension, contractures, and due to the expansion of blood vessels inhibit the ongoing inflammatory processes.

They clearly reduce the time of illness, thus meeting the expectations of animal owners.

On average, the procedure takes from 5 to 10 minutes and for the whole series it takes approx 10 repetitions.

The whole thing can be repeated after about 3-4 weeks.

Laser therapy

Laser therapy

There is a method of light therapy that uses a low or high energy laser.

It shows the action:

  • painkillers,
  • anti-inflammatory,
  • biostimulating.

Laser therapy improves blood flow through the capillaries, thus leading to better tissue nutrition.

Thus, inflammation is reduced through faster resorption of edema and exudate.

By inhibiting inflammatory processes, it accelerates the regeneration of the tissues involved.

It is a very universal method of physiotherapy that can be used in many orthopedic problems, as exemplified by them bone fractures (faster callus formation at the site of bone fracture) or tendinitis.

The procedure involves applying a special head that emits a laser beam to the skin and continues from a few to 20 minutes. You need approx 10 treatments.

Of course, laser therapy requires the use of appropriate equipment and absolutely appropriate medical knowledge of the personnel who use it.

Cryotherapy and thermotherapy

They are physical methods that use low and higher temperatures, respectively, which affect the tissues.

In the first case, cold compresses, cool baths or ice massage will reduce nerve conduction, which will result in a lower result analgesic effect.

The swelling of the tissues will also decrease and exudes which definitely improves the patient's comfort (reduction of inflammation).

Thermotherapy using the properties of heat (compresses, warm baths) should be used after the end of the acute phase of inflammation.

Accelerates nerve conduction by increasing blood supply to tissues, which translates into faster descent of inflammatory processes, i.e. faster healing.

Remember that the thermotherapy liquid you use must not be too hot so as not to induce it skin burns nor too cold, the consequences of which, in turn frostbite.


It focuses on a number of different physical exercises while being a reliant method treatment with movement and gymnastics.

Skillfully carried out exercises strengthen the appropriate muscle groups, thus increasing the physical fitness of the animal.

Passive exercises are performed by a physiotherapist who, by performing flexion, rotation, abduction or extension of the limb, and thus by putting it in motion, forces certain parts of the muscles to work and "stay in good shape ".

Stretching exercises increase the mobility of joints and the flexibility of the tissues that build these structures, eliminating cramps and excessive tension.

On average, one series of exercises lasts from a few to several minutes and depends on the patient's abilities.

After all, according to the principle that "movement is health ", only the used and working organs (muscles, joints) can show good health.

Dog and cat rehabilitation at home

The owner of a rehabilitated dog may be tempted to independently perform certain exercises or treatments at home, observing all these activities performed by a professional zoophysiotherapist in the office.

After all, the owner of the dog actively participates in the performed procedures, accompanying the dog, holding it or stroking it, thus ensuring the comfort of the activities carried out.

Many of the methods of rehabilitation, due to the use of specialized equipment, exclude their use at home.

However, some of them can be done at home.

However, we should remember the fundamental rule not to do anything on our own and consult everything with a therapist.

It would be good if he showed us earlier how to perform a given exercise or massage and then checked our performance.

We need to know exactly not only how, but also how many times to repeat a given movement, or even know the length and pace of walks ( "specific rehabilitation " at home for everyone).

We can safely apply methods of thermotherapy consisting in putting special heated gel bags or hot water bottles on the sick area.

We can also do passive movements, gymnastics, controlled walk.

All, however, after the therapist has previously recommended that his actions not destroy the work of the surgeon - orthopedist or the attending physician.

Let us remember that there are areas of medicine that are better left to professionals and not to play independently "supposedly the same " to perform, imitate their work, an exemplary example of which is physiotherapy.

Failure to follow very specific recommendations and attempting to rehabilitate yourself at home can ruin the entire process, delaying recovery.

How much does dog rehabilitation cost?

An extremely important issue from the owners' point of view is also finances, i.e. how much it will really cost us.

Let's also remember that a single treatment will not bring the expected effect and for full success you need a whole series of repetitions, which additionally translates into the overall cost.

Often the owner's pocket is already damaged by expenses related to surgery and traditional pharmacological treatment.

Therefore, it is worth finding out about the costs of carrying them out before deciding on specific treatments. And they can be very different, which results from the choice of the method and the knowledge of the physiotherapist.

Before starting rehabilitation, the therapist will of course want to know the history of the disease and the treatment that has been carried out so far.

This first visit, often referred to as a consultation, may be chargeable and its cost may vary from 50 to 100 PLN.

Only later does the series of recommended treatments begin:

  1. A single session of electrotherapy, magnetotherapy, laser therapy or ultrasound - from PLN 20.
  2. Massage - PLN 25-50 depending on the duration.
  3. A water treadmill is about PLN 20-30 for a single session.

If we count how many repetitions should be made, the final amount may turn out to be significant and even reach several thousand zlotys.

Of course, the prices are very different and depend on the office, so I emphasize once again to ask on the spot.


Why rehabilitate a dog?

The time of the patient's recovery, in which rehabilitation is to help, depends on many different individual factors, taking into account, for example, the age or type of disease and the regenerative abilities of the body.

The actions taken by us are designed to accelerate this process, ensuring maximum comfort in the healing process.

As a rule, animals willingly cooperate with the therapist, which is also important during the procedures.

They feel as if subconsciously that the procedures carried out bring them relief, eliminate pain and improve the diseased areas or limbs.

Of course, for full success to be possible, close cooperation of the owner with the person performing the treatments and following his recommendations is necessary.

The need for patience, consistency in action, perseverance and certainly the money we spend and time will not be wasted.

Because, as Aristotle wrote, "movement is life", so let's do everything to keep our animals fit for as long as possible, which I wish you all.

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